7 Healthy Substitutes for Marshmallow

Winter is knocking at our door, and the autumn air has turned frigid. It is the perfect time to huddle together and talk over hot mugs of cocoa laden with marshmallows. These squishy, fluffy, and sweet delights are a treat for all occasions. But what if you want some healthier alternative? Is there any marshmallow substitute that can rival this perfection?

Marshmallow Substitutes

I wasn’t so sure at first, but one day when I ran out of marshmallows and had to opt for other options, I realized what a blessing in disguise it was.

Marshmallows have been my favorite treat ever since I was a child. It was the first thing I grabbed when I visited the sweets shop. But what makes it so special? Let’s look a little into the particulars of marshmallows.

What are Marshmallows?

Marshmallows are a sugary confectionery made from water and gelatin. The batter is whipped to a soft but solid consistency and then coated with cornstarch. In short, a marshmallow is foam stabilized using gelatin.

Are marshmallows vegan?

No. Marshmallows are not vegan. They are from gelatin – an animal protein extracted from animals’ skin, tendons, and ligaments, mainly pig and cow.

How can we enjoy marshmallows?

Eating bald marshmallows can get a little boring. But you can amp up their flavor by combining them with other desserts and drinks. Marshmallows with hot chocolate and cocoa are popular ways to enjoy marshmallows. However, you can couple them with all kinds of snacks such as popcorn, cupcakes, and even fruit dishes.

Some amazing marshmallow recipes that I love are:

  • Marshmallow cookies
  • Marshmallow snowman for hot chocolate

What are marshmallows made of?

Marshmallows are made of two sections of ingredients; sweetening ones and the ones that give it texture. Sugar and corn syrup are responsible for their taste. Meanwhile, gelatin, the key ingredient, and cornstarch are responsible for its shape and texture.

Marshmallow Substitutes


Who made the first marshmallow?

Ancient Egyptians were the first civilization to enjoy this confection some two thousand years ago. Although back then, it was only reserved for gods and royalty. The Egyptians made this treat from the roots and sap of the Mallow plant. This wild plant was about two to four feet high and grew near the salty marshes, hence the name.


What can I alternate for marshmallows?

1. Marshmallow Fluff

Marshmallow fluff and marshmallow are fundamentally the same. Marshmallow fluff contains two extra ingredients; salt and vanillin. It is used to top off various desserts. You can substitute about 1 cup of marshmallow with half a cup of marshmallow fluff.

It is an excellent marshmallow substitute for hot chocolate. However, this option isn’t for vegans and those allergic to eggs. But if that does not trouble you, go ahead and try this amazing substitute.

Marshmallow Substitutes - Marshmallow Fluff


2. Honey and Peanut Butter

Another great substitute you can try is honey and peanut butter. This substitute works well in Rice Krispie treats as a binding agent. All you have to do is follow the steps mentioned below:

  • Add some honey to a saucepan and bring it to a boil over low to medium heat.
  • Let the honey boil for approximately one minute until it becomes runny and easy to mix.
  • Next, take it off the stove and the same amount of peanut butter as honey.
  • Now add about a couple of pinches of salt to balance out the sweetness.
  • Whip your mixture thoroughly to distribute peanut butter evenly. You can also add chocolate if you want to.
  • Let the mixture sit in the microwave until you are ready to use it.

Marshmallow Substitutes - Honey and Peanut Butter


3. Marshmallow Cream

Marshmallow cream is a lot similar to regular marshmallows in taste, but they have vastly different textures. It is made from corn syrup, xanthan gum, sugar, cream of tartar, and egg whites and works as a perfect marshmallow substitute for baking.

Marshmallows have a light, fluffy, and soft texture. On the other hand, marshmallow cream is flexible and spreadable, similar to melted marshmallows.

You can also use it as a marshmallow substitute for fudge and other desserts like pies and cakes. About half a cup of marshmallow cream can replace about eight regular marshmallows.

Marshmallow Substitutes - Marshmallow Cream


4. Zefir

Zefir is a soft and fluffy confection made by whipping fruit and berry purée with sugar and egg whites. Like common marshmallows, it also needs gelling agents like pectin, agar, or gelatine to hold its shape.

Zefir was first produced in former soviet union countries, although it traces its origin to Greece. Russian marshmallow, another name for zefir, looks a lot like meringue. You can also melt it with a double broiler and substitute it for melted marshmallows.

Marshmallow Substitutes - Zefir


5. Homemade Marshmallows

You can also make marshmallows at home from scratch. This isn’t an entirely healthy alternative, but at least you’ll have some creative freedom. You can make homemade marshmallows using the following recipe:


  • One egg white.
  • 250 g of light corn syrup.
  • 75 g of ground or powdered sugar.
  • 9.5 g of vanilla essence.
  • Two pinches of salt.

Cooking instructions:

  • First, you need to mix corn syrup with egg white.
  • Next, add two pinches of salt. 
  • Whip the mixture until it thickens and doubles in volume. This should take around 5 minutes with a good hand mixer. 
  • Then add all your dry ingredients, i.e., sugar, and mix everything thoroughly at 1 or 2 speeds. 
  • Now add a small quantity of the vanilla extract. It can be very overpowering, so don’t be too generous with splashing it. 
  • Finally, refrigerate your mixture and use it within two weeks.

Marshmallow Substitutes - Homemade Marshmallows


6. Sugar-free Marshmallows

Want a guilt-free treat? You can find numerous pre-made sugar-free marshmallows online, reminiscent of the good old days of Ancient Egypt. Moreover, depending upon the ingredient you want to avoid, you can attempt to make that at home too. Sugar-free marshmallows replace sugar with sweeteners like xylitol, allulose, or agave.

Marshmallow Substitutes - Sugar-free Marshmallows


7. Gelatin-free Marshmallows

Gelatin is not unhealthy. Rather, it has many benefits, such as being a rich source of collagen and amino acids. But because it is derived from animals, mainly pigs, people of certain communities avoid ingesting it as much as possible.

Therefore, if you aren’t too enthusiastic about having gelatin in your desserts, try agar instead. It is a great plant-derived substitute for gelatin and carries the same jelly-like texture. Moreover, you can try ordering gelatin-free marshmallows online or make some yourself at home!

However, remember that agar changes the texture of marshmallows considerably. So if you are a texture freak when it comes to marshmallows, this isn’t the best option.

Marshmallow Substitutes - Gelatin-free Marshmallows


Frequently Asked Questions

Can Muslims eat marshmallows?
Unless it is a vegan marshmallow or made from cow gelatin, the answer is no. But, since most marshmallows are made from pig’s gelatin which is prohibited for Muslims, they tend to not eat it at all.
Do pink and white marshmallows taste different?
This never-ending taste debate will not conclude with my answer. But I believe they DO taste different. The pink marshmallow is slightly fruitier than the white part, which just tastes sugary. However, it can also vary from company to company since one’s choice of food color also changes the taste.
How do you make gelatin?
Gelatin is made by soaking pig skin in dilute acid for about 24 hours. This unbinds the crosslinking protein bonds in collagen, and free protein chains are extracted. Next, they are filtered and purified. Finally, the dried protein is turned into sheets or powdered form. The end product is about ninety percent gelatin, eight percent water and the remaining two is salt and glucose.


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